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International connectivity and the digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Cariolle, Joël

Abstract

In recent decades, international connectivity has improved significantly with the worldwide deployment of some 400 fiber submarine cables (SMCs), transmitting more than 99% of international telecommunications. If sub-Saharan African (SSA) has long remained excluded from this interconnection process, the maritime infrastructure network has recently densified and spurred an African connectivity catch-up. This paper estimates the impact of SMC deployment on the digital divide in a sample of 45 SSA countries covering the period of 1990–2014. Difference in differences (DID) estimations are conducted and highlight the particular contribution of SEACOM and EASSy cables, laid in 2009–2010, to Internet penetration in Eastern and Southern Africa. According to DID estimates, the rollout of these SMCs has yielded a 3–5 percentage point increase in Internet penetration rates in this region compared to the rest of SSA. This is a remarkable advancement, since this variation corresponds approximately to the level of Internet penetration in the subcontinent prior to their arrival.

Suggested Citation

  • Cariolle, Joël, 2021. "International connectivity and the digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:55:y:2021:i:c:s0167624520301451
    DOI: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2020.100901
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    1. Michele Imbruno & Joel Cariolle & Jaime de Melo, 2022. "Digital connectivity and firm participation in foreign markets: An exporter-based bilateral analysis," Discussion Papers 2022-02, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    2. Martins, Maria Lurdes, 2023. "Cybersecurity provision and online services access and usage," 32nd European Regional ITS Conference, Madrid 2023: Realising the digital decade in the European Union – Easier said than done? 278001, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    3. Joël Cariolle & Yasmine Elkhateeb & Mathilde Maurel, 2022. "(Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 22010, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    4. Essotanam Mamba & Afi Balaki, 2023. "Deep regional trade agreement as a driver for global value chains in Africa: the case of ECOWAS region," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 56(3), pages 2037-2068, June.
    5. Nyanzu, Frederick & Baylis, Kathy, 2023. "Mobile Money Service, Financial Inclusion, and Ag-Investment in Developing Countries: Evidence from Ghana," 2023 Annual Meeting, July 23-25, Washington D.C. 335719, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Joël Cariolle & David A Carroll, 2022. "The Use of Digital for Public Service Provision in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers hal-03004535, HAL.
    7. Wim Naudé, 2023. "Late industrialisation and global value chains under platform capitalism," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 50(1), pages 91-119, March.
    8. Joël Cariolle & Michele Imbruno & Jaime de Melo, 2020. "Bilateral digital connectivity and firm participation in export markets," Working Papers hal-03182438, HAL.
    9. Carolina Calatayud & María Engracia Rochina Barrachina, 2023. "How do firms in Sub‐Saharan Africa benefit from global value chains?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 91(2), pages 214-241, June.
    10. Leal Filho, Walter & Wall, Tony & Rui Mucova, Serafino Afonso & Nagy, Gustavo J. & Balogun, Abdul-Lateef & Luetz, Johannes M. & Ng, Artie W. & Kovaleva, Marina & Safiul Azam, Fardous Mohammad & Alves,, 2022. "Deploying artificial intelligence for climate change adaptation," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 180(C).
    11. Herman, Peter R. & Oliver, Sarah, 2023. "Trade, policy, and economic development in the digital economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C).
    12. Essossinam Ali & Hodabalo Bataka & Kwami Ossadzifo Wonyra & Nadège Essossolim Awade & Nèmè Nalèwazou Braly, 2024. "Global value chains participation and environmental pollution in developing countries: Does digitalization matter?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(1), pages 451-478, January.
    13. Joël Cariolle & David A Carroll, 2020. "Advancing digital frontiers in African economies: lessons learned from firm-level innovations," Working Papers hal-03118738, HAL.
    14. Jaime de Melo & Jean-Marc Solleder, 2022. "Patterns and Correlates of Supply Chain Trade in MENA and SSA," Working Papers hal-03649085, HAL.
    15. Lythreatis, Sophie & Singh, Sanjay Kumar & El-Kassar, Abdul-Nasser, 2022. "The digital divide: A review and future research agenda," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    16. Evans, Olaniyi & Mesagan, Ekundayo Peter, 2022. "ICT-trade and pollution in Africa: Do governance and regulation matter?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 511-531.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    ICT; submarine cables; digital divide; Sub-Saharan Africa; infrastructure; connectivity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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